Think Like A Trader Blog

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Forget the 'Victim Complex' and Focus on Improving

Reading Time - 7 Minutes

I used to get pissed off with people. The ones who just seemed to ‘get’ things and were naturally good at what they tried. You know the type – the ones who always understood what was going on in class and rocked their exams; the person on the football team who was able to play circles around you; the one at work who never seems phased by what’s going on and takes on a larger workload, swimming through promotions like a knife through butter.

I used to think it was unfair. I’ll happily admit now that I had a ‘victim complex’. I was annoyed at what seemed like a bias in the very nature of life toward some people - the successful people. At the time, I didn’t really do anything about it other than feel annoyed, mope around, and trudge through what I thought was my lot in life.

But there were a couple of things that helped me out along the way. The first was that I loved to read. The second was that I am naturally competitive, so no matter how much I tried to ‘accept my lot’, there was always a voice in my head telling me to figure out what the hell was going on and learn how to shift the deck of cards in my favour.

I discovered a couple of things, and both the discovery and the change that it brought about has helped me ever since.

First of all, I found that there are certain people who are just naturally good at things. There are those who don’t need to study for an exam, and there are those who get a football at their foot and it’s as though when they were born, they should have come out wearing a pair of Nike football boots.

There’s no real reason for this, they’re just ‘lucky’ in that way. However, when I started paying attention, what I discovered was that the ‘lucky’ people were of the minority. It wasn’t as regular an occurrence as I had led myself to believe. In succumbing to that ‘victim complex’, I had casually pushed everyone who was better than me at something into a heightened state of being, giving their talents over to genetics and a special sprinkle of something in their brain at birth.

But the rest of them? The majority of those who were better than me at the things I was trying?

They were outworking me.

The realisation was so simple and yet so profound I didn’t actually accept it fully for a long time. They were simply putting more hours into practice, were studying more, and had been doing it longer than me.

I can also still remember the first time I really put that theory to the test.

I had a close friend who was very good at running. Whenever we went running together, he would always be able to set a faster pace, he would always be able to go further, and he would always have to end up waiting for me as I lumbered to a walk to catch my breath.

I used to think I was just sh** at running in comparison to him. I assured myself that it was just something else I wasn’t very good at.

But then I really started to look at it. And I realised that this friend had been running fairly consistently, since he was a kid. He knew about breathing techniques, stride setting, and how to push through the initial wall that runners often hit. He used to run for the school athletics team.

Could it be that I wasn’t actually bad at running, that I wasn’t a victim of life, but that I simply wasn’t putting in the work to get better than him?

So I started training. I went out running by myself at least once per day. I ran so much that I started to get strain injuries in my knee. I figured out how to combat the strain, and I started running again. I went from running two miles per day to ten. I slashed my pace from ten minute miles to seven and a half minutes. And believe me, it’s easy to squash what I did into a paragraph here, but in reality, it was a hell of a lot of hard work. It was running in the snow and running when all I wanted to do was lie in bed and watch TV. I would practice sprints until I was ready to pass out. I did it for months and months.

All the time in my head there was the doubt that what I was doing wouldn’t work. I still had that niggling feeling that I simply wasn’t good at running and that my friend was better (more natural talent).

We then did two things:

We joined one of those Ultimate Warrior style events that was a 10km circuit of obstacles and running through hills. And we also joined a fitness class.

The fitness class came first and I can still remember at the end of the class we were to sprint back to the instructor. I was next to my friend, we were both already at the front of the class, and we both went for it. Around halfway back I could see my friend look over at me. There was a surprised realisation on his face. He wasn’t pulling away. He tried to put on another burst of speed and again, surprising myself, I easily matched. It was a shock to me when we arrived back at the instructor, but also to him because he actually said to me, ‘When did you get so fast?’

For the Warrior event, we were around 6 or 7km into it when he started stopping and walking. I felt like I could have upped the pace and wasn’t even ready to slow up.

So why is this important?

Because it means that no matter where you are in your life, if you want to improve, then there’s a way. There is no ‘victim complex’ that cannot be overcome. The first time you discover that you have this power, it will be freeing and invigorating. If you put in the work, you will come to the point, like I did, where you outwork the competition, or where you study so hard that the impossible task starts to seem manageable.

The other bonus I have in my corner is that I love reading. Books are one of the best conveyancers of knowledge, and I don’t mind one bit sitting down and working through a stack of them. And not only books, but online. You have literally the information of the world available to you through google searches. And if you don’t like reading, there are audiobooks and countless videos online now that can help you.

Now I dedicate at least 10% of my income to learning and I give it as much free time as I possibly can. It has become a part of my life. It doesn’t matter what I think is too difficult or that I am not good enough to do. I simply throw myself at it. I didn’t think I would be able to trade, but I just sat my ass down at the computer and started to learn.

And what you’ll find is that if you hit against a rock enough times, eventually it will start to crack.

Make it a constant process. Because no matter how hard you study initially and how far you go, if you begin to settle, the world will catch back up to you. Things change and you should be adapting and changing right along with them. Keep pushing and improving.

So, if you ever think that you can’t do something, or that you’re not good enough for it, try focusing your energy not on the negative, but on the positive prospect of learning your way to what you want. It’s not easy, but if you want it enough, you will get there.

I hope you're all having a great trading week!

James Orr



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